What else has Kaminario got under its kimono?

Sometimes, just looking good is not enough to survive

Why good is no longer enough

AFA is a tough market. When you look around you can find plenty of solutions, with four of them at the head of the pack – HP/3PAR, Pure Storage, EMC/XtremIO and SolidFire.

Two primary vendors and two start-ups. I’m not questioning the single feature of each single product or its potential based on its large sales force, but no doubt these four are already well known, represented and, for one reason or another, are most likely to participate in the majority of the dealings.

Just to give a few examples: in Italy, Pure Storage launched its subsidiary a few weeks ago with 3 people on staff and there is talk already about hiring more to get at the market faster. But the others are very aggressive too.

HP has a very good solution and a broad product range, starting at ridiculously low prices (thanks to its 7200 model). EMC has a huge sales force and they already have access to all high-end (aka VMAX) end users. SolidFire is making a dent in the very high end and ISP customers (especially when OpenStack is involved).

I’ve only mentioned the most visible vendors. In some cases solutions provided by vendors like HDS seem to suit their customers’ needs just fine.

How many end users will allow another vendor to be brought in? The qualification and testing process alone (involving a PoC, maybe) could be too onerous to justify it. The list of potential vendors is already good and long, why make it longer?

Looking for a differentiator

But storage is storage. Don’t get me wrong when I say this: I completely agree that implementation counts, but on the other hand, basic data protection and data services are implemented quite well on all modern storage platforms. The most sophisticated characteristics – like QoS, for example – are not needed by all end-users.

Now, to find the real differentiation, we need to climb up the stack.

All-flash or not (flash memory is just a faster media after all), modern primary storage must be smarter than in the past. Cloud-based system analytics can make a difference and help to lower the TCO, but that is only the first step. Some storage vendors are looking ahead and doing more.

  • Qumulo, a start-up which came out of stealth a few days ago, has presented a smart scale-out NAS solution capable of storing and analysing files
  • Nimble Storage came out with impressive features for analysing VM/App workloads a few months ago
  • Data Gravity is capable of analysing the content of data stored in its array

These are only examples, but they should give you an idea of what is happening.

Closing the circle

Well-implemented array features affect infrastructure TCO, which is good, but it is always difficult to calculate (and to sell, at any level). On the other hand, a well-implemented analytics system can reflect its advantages directly on business activities and helps IT to meet the changing needs of an enterprise much faster/quicker. Isn’t this a huge value?

Getting back to Kaminario, at the risk of being repetitive, let me once again say that the product looks good, but it’s a little bit late to the party and I can’t find an absolute differentiator that makes it outstanding.

The technology is good but what kind of exit strategy is foreseeable for a start-up of this sort? Acquisition, most likely. Or living in limbo for the time being. Time will tell. ®

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